With the tax-filing deadline on Monday, April 15, plenty of
taxpayers may be spending their weekend filling out forms. If
you're one of them, you want to make sure that you don't make
mistakes in your rush to complete your tax return. The IRS reports
that it takes longer to process returns with mistakes. If you're
getting a refund, this means that it will be delayed.
Here are 10 mistakes that taxpayers often make. A good way to
avoid many of them is to prepare and file your return
electronically by using tax software or the
IRS Free File
service (if your adjusted gross income is $57,000 or less).
According to the IRS, taxpayers are about twenty times more likely
to make a mistake on their return if they file a paper return
instead of e-filing their return.
Note that most of these mistakes are blunders that the IRS
notices. You may be making a bigger, more costly mistake if you
overlook deductions. See our
slide show to find out if you're overpaying your taxes by missing
any breaks that you deserve.
1. Mixing up a Social Security number. Year after year, the IRS
says bad Social Security numbers are at the top of the list of
taxpayer mistakes. Pull out your Social Security card -- as well as
the cards of your spouse and dependents -- and check the numbers
against what is on your tax form. Forgetting to enter a number, or
transposing two figures, will slow down your refund (if you're
getting one) or lead the IRS to reject your exemptions for
dependents if you get their numbers wrong.
2. Spelling a name wrong. Make sure you enter names of all
individuals on your tax return exactly as they appear on their
Social Security cards.
3. Choosing the wrong filing status. There are five filing
statuses: Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing
Separately, Head of Household and Qualifying Widow(er) With
Dependent Child. The IRS recommends using
Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and
to choose the right one for you. E-filing your tax return will also
help you choose the right filing status because the series of
questions that the software will require you to answer.
4. Making math mistakes. Another big source of errors is basic
addition and subtraction mistakes. The easiest way to avoid this
pitfall is to use tax software and file your return electronically.
Programs such as TurboTax, TaxAct, H&R Block at Home (formerly
TaxCut) and Free File will ask you questions about your income and
expenses and do the math for you. And when you e-file, you won't
have to include a W-2 and you'll be prompted to sign your form
5. Figuring credits and deductions incorrectly. The IRS
recommends reading the instructions in your tax booklet carefully
because many filers make mistakes figuring their Earned Income Tax
Credit, Child and Dependent Care Credit and the standard deduction.
For example, if you are 65 or older or blind make sure you claim
the correct, larger standard deduction amount.
6. Leaving off a signature. The IRS says this is one of the most
common mistakes, and it won't process a return without a signature.
And, remember, both spouses must sign a joint return. Everything
will be put on hold while the IRS sends you a special form to sign
certifying that your return is accurate.
7. Botching an electronic signature. To e-file a return, you
will need a personal identification number (PIN) to sign it. You
can use last year's PIN if you e-filed and remember it. Otherwise,
you will need to be assigned a PIN. For security purposes, the
software will ask you to enter your adjusted gross income from your
original 2011 federal tax return. According to the IRS, you should
not use the AGI amount from an amended 2011 return or an AGI
provided to you if the IRS corrected your return.
8. Getting bank routing and account numbers wrong. If you are
getting a refund and are electing to have it deposited
automatically into your account, make sure you enter your
information correctly so the money actually shows up in your
9. Forgetting to attach forms. If you file a paper return, make
sure you attach your W-2 and other forms that reflect tax withheld
to the front of your return. If you're claiming credits that
require special documentation include those records with your
10. Being unwilling to admit you need more time. If you discover
over the weekend that your tax situation is just too complicated to
sort out in a few hours, file for an extension with the IRS to
delay the due date for your return until October 15, 2013. You'll
still have to mail a check to the IRS by April 15 if you owe (you
can estimate the amount). Use
to file an extension.
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